Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 10, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

PA Agrees to Hamas Rally in West Bank (Ma'an News-PA)
    The Palestinian Authority has agreed to allow a Hamas rally in Nablus in the West Bank on Thursday commemorating the movement's 25th anniversary, independent politician Khalil Assaf said Monday.
    Hamas leaders will deliver speeches with the sanction of the Fatah-dominated West Bank government.

IDF: Hamas Trying to Activate West Bank Sleeper Cells - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas is attempting to reactivate its sleeper cells in the West Bank, the IDF has warned. At the same time, its efforts are being thwarted by the IDF and the Israel Security Agency.
    Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas is exploiting breaks in between rounds of fighting to better hide its rockets in underground bunkers, said Maj. Guy Aviad, head of the instruction department at the IDF General Staff's History Department.
    See also IDF Foils West Bank Terror Cells Planning to Abduct Soldiers - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    The IDF has arrested five Palestinian terror cells in the Ramallah sector in the past four months, all of which were planning to abduct soldiers.
    See also Palestinians See Renewed Violent Intifada Unlikely - Josef Federman (AP)
    Palestinian officials in the West Bank have signaled they have no desire to return to the days of the uprising against Israel, when armed militant gangs controlled Palestinian cities.
    "We are not ready for war. The only way forward is peace," PA leader Mahmoud Abbas told Arab leaders in Qatar on Sunday.
    Majed Swailim, a Palestinian political scientist, said Palestinian disappointment in failed peace efforts could lead to anti-Israel street protests in the West Bank in the coming months. But he did not expect an open armed rebellion.
    "People here don't want to repeat the violent intifada because they know that Israel can paralyze life in the entire West Bank," he said.

On Israeli Tip, Naples Police Seize Arms Bound for Egypt (Israel Hayom)
    A shipment of weapons bound for Egypt has been intercepted by Italian authorities in the port of Naples based on information Italy received from Israel, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on Saturday.
    The shipment included five containers, one of which held a rocket launcher.

Israel Funds Bone Marrow Transplant for Palestinian Child (Israel Defense Forces)
    A two-year old Palestinian boy from the West Bank underwent a bone marrow transplant last month at Israel's Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer.
    The procedure was funded by Israel after the Palestinian Authority declined the family's request to fund it.
    "This procedure will save the child's life," explained Dalia Bessa, the Health Coordinator for the Civil Administration.
    Israel funds hundreds of operations and medical treatments each year for Palestinians.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Britain: Assad Preparing Chemical Weapons for Use in Syria - Colin Freeman
    British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned on Saturday that he had seen intelligence reports that Damascus was assembling chemical and biological stockpiles as a last-ditch defense against the growing rebel onslaught. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Israeli Ambassador: Syria Transfer of WMD to Militants Would Be "Game Changer" - Julian E. Barnes
    Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said that if Syria were to transfer chemical weapons to Hizbullah or other militant groups, it would be a "game changer." Armed with chemical weapons, Hizbullah would pose a grave danger to Israel, he said.
        Oren made clear it won't tolerate Hizbullah obtaining chemical weapons. "We have a clear red line about those weapons passing into the wrong hands," he said. "Can you imagine Hizbullah, with its 70,000 rockets, could get its hands on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Renews Exemptions from Iran Sanctions - Jay Solomon and Keith Johnson
    The Obama administration reissued waivers that exempt nine countries, including China, India and Turkey, from fully complying with U.S. sanctions targeting Iran's oil exports. The other countries were Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Taiwan.
        Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "A total of 20 countries and economies have continued to significantly reduce the volume of their crude oil purchases from Iran. This has reduced Iran's export volumes and oil revenues, which fund not only the nuclear program but its support for terror and destabilizing actions in the region."  (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Turkey Pays for Iranian Oil and Gas with Gold
    Iran-Turkey trade reached $20 billion in 10 months to November. The rapid growth of trade in 2012 was due to a 243.5% growth in Turkey's exports to Iran, with gold accounting for more than $7 billion of the total figure. Turkey's exports to Iran were worth over $2.927 billion in the first 10 months of 2011, which rose to $9.329 billion during the same months in 2012. Turkey exports gold to Iran in exchange for oil and gas. (IRNA-Iran)
  • Egypt's Morsi Reverses Most of Decree that Expanded His Powers - Jeffrey Fleishman and Reem Abdellatif
    In a political reversal to calm weeks of unrest, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Sunday rescinded much of last month's decree that expanded his powers, including putting his office beyond judicial oversight. But Morsi continued to defy the opposition by refusing to cancel a Dec. 15 referendum on a proposed constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Palestinians Have No Intention of Compromising with Israel - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Hamas' declaration over the weekend that it would never recognize Israel and would "free the land of Palestine inch by inch" had once again "exposed the true face" of Israel's enemies. "They have absolutely no intention of compromising with us," Netanyahu told the Cabinet. "They want to destroy the state. They will of course fail....The nation of Israel will overcome these hostile enemies."
        "The interesting thing is precisely that Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] did not issue a condemnation, not against words calling for the destruction of Israel, just as he did not condemn the firing of missiles at Israel," Netanyahu said. Abbas "is striving for unity with the same Hamas that is supported by Iran....We are not prepared to make the same mistake again of unilateral withdrawal...that essentially brought Hamas into power in Gaza."  (Ha'aretz)
  • UN General Assembly Adopts Israeli-Sponsored Resolution on "Entrepreneurship for Development"
    By a vote of 129 in favor and 31 against, the UN General Assembly on Friday adopted an Israeli-sponsored resolution to advance entrepreneurship in the developing world as a new means to fight poverty and create growth and jobs. Ambassador Ron Prosor noted: "Unfortunately, the Arab Group announced that it would vote against this resolution....What a shame. Few places could benefit from entrepreneurship more than the Arab world....By voting against this resolution [the Arab delegations] have turned their backs on their own people."
        "Israel's experience shows that humans are a country's greatest natural resource. In just six decades, Israel has transitioned from a developing nation to a start-up nation....Israel's story shows that if you want stability, empower your people. If you want prosperity, invest in your citizens. And if you want sustainability, engage every member of society - especially women and youth."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israeli Diplomacy within the Corridor of Palestinian Unilateralism - Dore Gold
    The Palestinian leadership systematically spread the rumor that immediately after the UN General Assembly upgrade, Mahmoud Abbas would renew negotiations with Israel without any of the preconditions he has set since 2009. But it should have come as no surprise that after the vote on Nov. 29, Abbas did not budge on his preconditions. He even used the UN resolution as setting future terms of reference that Israel must agree to if negotiations are ever to be resumed.
        Over the last decade and a half, Israelis have tried to understand what the Palestinians need to reach an agreement and have frequently made concessions up front before sitting down with the other side. They used language as a confidence-building measure. On the other hand, for the Palestinians, words were not used as "confidence-building measures" but as instruments to be employed for political warfare.
        The Palestinians did not feel they had to prove the sincerity of their commitment to peacemaking, or take into account Israeli positions. Thus while formal Israeli positions over the last decade and a half moved significantly, the Palestinians did not move one inch. (Israel Hayom)
  • The True Meaning of Hanukkah - Hilary Leila Krieger
    The story of Hanukkah is about foreign conquerors who were not letting Jews in ancient Israel worship freely, even defiling their temple, until a scrappy group led by the Maccabee family overthrew one of the most powerful armies in the world and won their liberty. However, many think the miracle of an oil lamp that burned for eight days without replenishing is the root of Hanukkah's commemoration.
        But the original miracle of Hanukkah was that a committed band of people led a successful uprising against a much larger force, paving the way for Jewish independence and perhaps keeping Judaism itself from disappearing. It's an amazing story, resonant with America's own founding, that offers powerful lessons about standing up for one's convictions and challenging those in power. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Is Failing Its Responsibility to Palestinians - Editorial
    When Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, declared himself a martyr-in-waiting in Gaza on Friday, he confirmed that violence is the group's only vision for the future. But blinded by its narrative of resistance, Hamas is unable to see how clearly it is failing its own people. Gazans are unemployed, angry and desperate, but Hamas' rocket fire will do nothing to improve life in the Strip.
        Had Meshaal and others focused on political compromise, rather than conduct the purge of Fatah members from Gaza in 2006, Palestinian politics would not be as divided as it is today. (National-Abu Dhabi)

Palestine's Strangely Stubborn State of Mind - Emanuele Ottolenghi (Commentator)

  • Rather than seeking compromise with Israel, Palestinian leaders have again put the fate of their cause into the hands of others, foolishly believing that others will deliver what they themselves are not capable of obtaining.
  • In 1947, Palestinian leaders trusted the Arab League and opposed compromise, since they hoped Arab armies would win the entire country by force. They did not.
  • Then, for nearly two decades, instead of asking Jordan - who occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem - and Egypt - who conquered Gaza to turn those areas into a Palestinian state, Palestinian leaders trusted the standard bearers of Arab nationalism to restore them to power and destroy Israel.
  • The late PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, fought anyone who dared encourage compromise with Israel. That brought more grief onto the Palestinians than all the wars with Israel combined. Arafat's brief stint in Jordan ended with its king, the late Hussein, slaughtering thousands of Palestinians to save his throne. Arafat's reliance on Saddam Hussein cost hundreds of thousands of Palestinians their livelihoods in Kuwait in 1991 - after the emirate was liberated.
  • Adding an observer seat, along with the Vatican, on the UN roster will no doubt boost the Palestinian ego - but independence, as in the past, will remain elusive.
  • The other option is direct negotiations, which demands give and take. Palestinian history, unfortunately, offers no precedent for that.

    The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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